Bulls And Bears

Banks slide while M1 attracts buying interest

Lacklustre performance on bourse blamed on Trump's sketchy tax reform plan

Singapore equities beat a retreat yesterday although other regional markets mostly finished stronger.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) eased 2.4 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 3,171.36, snapping a six-session winning streak. A total of 1.18 billion shares worth $1.04 bilion were traded across the bourse.

The lacklustre performance likely stemmed from US President Donald Trump's bold but sketchy tax reform plan announced overnight, which offered few details other than reiterating the plan for "massive" cuts.

"For a market that had rallied strongly since President Donald Trump's victory in the Nov 8 election, the scant details meant little fresh insights," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said. "Details on how the tax plan can achieve revenue-neutrality and clear Congress remain to be seen."

Losses on the STI were led in part by all three local banks. United Overseas Bank slid 1.1 per cent or 24 cents to $21.47, while DBS Group Holdings pared 0.5 per cent or 10 cents to $19.21. OCBC Bank dipped 0.2 per cent or two cents to $9.74. Other laggards included palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources, down 1.4 per cent or half a cent at 35.5 cents.

Telco M1 shot up 3.8 per cent or eight cents to $2.17 amid market speculation that some parties have expressed interest in buying the company after its key shareholders said they are reviewing their stakes.

A Bloomberg report, citing unnamed sources, said a coal producer based in China's Shanxi province and China Broadband Capital are among the bidders for the $1.9 billion Singapore wireless carrier.

A later report added that Bahrain Telecommunications Co and private equity funds have made non-binding bids too. Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation, which owns 19.23 per cent of M1, rose 2.8 per cent or five cents to $1.805 while shares of another substantial shareholder, Singapore Press Holdings, were up one cent at $3.48.

Meanwhile, Aims AMP Capital Industrial Reit added 0.7 per cent or one cent to $1.405 yesterday despite posting a 5.8 per cent drop in distribution per unit to 2.78 cents.

First Sponsor Group, which reported a 16.4 per cent increase in first-quarter net profit to $14.2 million, ended flat at $1.32.

The most active counter was again Addvalue Technologies, jumping 6.3 per cent or 0.3 cent to 5.1 cents on 125.8 million shares done.

Other stocks that saw heavy trade included Noble Group, unchanged at 14.6 cents, and Aoxin Q&M Dental Group, which rocketed 35.4 per cent or 8.5 cents to 32.5 cents. The firm, a spin-off of mainboard-listed Q&M Dental Group, has performed strongly since making its Catalist debut on Wednesday, with a placement price of 20 cents.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai rose 0.36 per cent, buoyed by a rebound in small caps, while Hong Kong advanced 0.49 per cent. Tokyo slid 0.19 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'Banks slide while M1 attracts buying interest'. Print Edition | Subscribe